Medical &Health

Create awareness to stop child repression: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday put emphasis on creating mass awareness of stopping child repression as she launched Bangladesh's first-ever toll-free "Child Helpline-1098".

In this connection, Sheikh Hasina called upon all to build a beautiful society by awakening their latent human qualities.

"The people will have to arouse their own human qualities from the thinking that they may be affected if they want to cause harm to others," she said.

The premier said the human beings have both good and bad intentions. "But awareness should be raised so that their good intentions flourish instead of beastly attitude ... and the social welfare ministry will have to play the leading role to this end," she said.

Sheikh Hasina formally launched the 'Child Helpline - 1098' from her official Ganabhaban residence here this morning through videoconferencing to provide a free telephone service to children who are facing violence, abuse and exploitation.

The premier also talked to the victims of Faridpur Safe Home and Rajbari Safe Home through the videoconferencing.

The Child Helpline "1098" enables anyone to report child rights violations, child abuse, exploitation or any other act of disruption to the protection of children by calling a toll free number "1098" from any corner of the country, through any mobile phone operator.

State Minister for Social Welfare Nuruzzaman Ahmed, Secretary of the ministry Zillar Rahman, Judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court Justice Iman Ali and on behalf of the Unicef Sara Bordas Eddy spoke at the function.

The prime minister said the parents will have to be convinced that problems won't vanish with marrying off their children. "Rather they will have to be given a scope for standing on their own feet," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said everybody will have to think that they have children, mothers and sisters. "Every male has a responsibility to ensure security for mothers and sisters, while he should also look after safety of others, she said.

Describing the Child Helpline-1098 as very important for the society, Sheikh Hasina hoped that it would help reduce child repression in the country. "Those who would commit such a crime would remain under panic as he or she could be tracked down in any time," she said.

The premier said those who would misuse the helpline by giving false information would also be brought under the punishment.

Earlier, Sheikh Hasina opened the helpline by making a call with the Call Centre set up at the Department of Social Services at Agargaon.

When the operator wanted to know her identity, Sheikh Hasina said: "I'm not a child, but I could be called a 70-year-old child. I'm the Prime Minister."

Urging those who work at the Call Centre to take care of the child victims properly, the premier said: "You will have to be careful so that they get proper help."

While talking about the online trial, the prime minister said there will be a court room adjacent to the jail and trial of the dreadful accused would be held at that jail as a problem in transporting such a criminal from jail to the court exist.

Sheikh Hasina said she has already instructed the authorities to start online trial and it's the most important factor for the child court.

Child Helpline 1098 has been initiated in accordance with Article 90 of the Children Act 2013 to provide a means for channeling information from vulnerable children, children in conflict or contact with law as well as information of child rights violation, to an appropriate authority and simplify the process of providing information.

The Child Sensitive Social Protection in Bangladesh Project under the Department of Social Services, Ministry of Social Welfare, supported by UNICEF Bangladesh, already started Child Help Line "1098" activities as a pilot initiative all over the country since December 2015.

To date, Child Helpline "1098" has supported the prevention of 379 child marriages and 2,070 children have been provided with health and education support as well as legal aid and reintegration services throughout the country through a referral mechanism.

The Child Helpline operates a 24-hour telephone line and provides emergency support to children at risk, as well as to concerned citizens who need to raise the alarm about certain children. The service also links children with existing social protection services through rescue, safe shelter, referral and networking.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)